Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kuji's classrooms from a different perspective

Today is a special, historical day for this blog.

For the first time ever, I'm going to have guest writers! My friends from home/roommates for the next couple of weeks have been living my Japanese life with me, and it's been so fun to share it with them. :) In just a second, they'll share what they've observed.

This past week, they went with me to Okawame and Yamane junior high schools, as well as Kuji Elementary School. They can't spent as much time with me in the classrooms as I'd initially hoped for because, according to Yamadate, "Swan flu has changed the world." But anyway, we at least have some time together in the schools.

I'm now handing over the computer to the gals so they can tell you for themselves about their school visits. Take it away...

In each of the classes we visited we were asked to give a self-introduction. For example, we told the students our names, ages, how many people are in our families, favorite colors, foods, and things we like to do. The students' assignment was to ask us in English about some of our favorite things.

Here we are with the third grade class (equivalent to 9th grade in America) at Okawame Jr. High.

Mr. Otsuki wrote some of our responses to their questions on the blackboard.

We got to eat the school lunch with the students. We had soup with balls of salmon in it, veggies, a fried potato cake and bread.

The lunch was very different from the way it is in American schools. The students who served the lunch put on hats and aprons. Lunch is always served in the classrooms and all of the students brought their own chopsticks. There is only one meal choice, and everyone eats the school lunch. Mr. Otsuki told us that rice is served three times a week with the meal, and bread is served twice a week.

There are many differences in the way Japanese classrooms are conducted. To begin the class, the students stand up so they are addressing the teachers. We noticed that there is not much discipline in the classroom; in one of the classes, a student spent the whole class period sleeping, and the teacher did little to stop it.

Visiting Kuji Elementary School was a lot different from our visits to the middle schools. As we were walking into one of the classrooms at the elementary school, the students were cheering and were so excited to see us! Students in America are not as enthused when people walk into the classroom.

New words or phrases are repeated several times so the students can learn and remember the English. Each class at the elementary school was taught the same lesson. They all sung "The Hello Song" about ten times. They also had to ask us and each other how we/they were doing. We had to respond by saying and gesturing "I'm hungry," "I'm sleepy," "I'm fine," and "I'm happy." They did this for about twenty minutes. Most of the students succeeded with these activities.

Other things we observed include:
  • Class sizes were as big as 30 students and as small as 5 students in the whole school!
  • Yamane Jr. High School had more teachers than it had students!
  • Each grade had a different color shoe.
  • Each school had a different color uniform.
  • Teachers move around from class to class instead of the students moving.
Next week, we'll go to Ube Elementary School on Monday and also go to the middle schools again. We're looking forward to it!


Dawn said...

To Dana - LOL, have a nice break writing in your journal? And yes, swine flu (as most flues have) has changed the world.

To Friends - Sounds like you had a nice time enjoying the culture - and I'm very surprised they didn't wake up the sleeping student.

lauren said...

It was so fun being a guest writer for you!!! We should do it again!!!
Love you!!!